The Battle of Bellingham Bay

This weekend we took part in a 3-hour battle sail on Bellingham Bay, thanks to the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, the Lady Washington, the Hawaiian Chieftain, and their crews.

The Hawaiian Chieftain in full sail
The Lady Washington

The Grays Harbor Historical Seaport organization is working hard to share knowledge and experience of the Pacific Northwest’s rich maritime heritage. One way to help and learn about our local history is to volunteer for ‘two weeks before the mast’ and take part in sailing these ships while interacting with the public. The crew of the Hawaiian Chieftain, both paid and ‘pressed’ were very friendly and full of information about the details of sailing, the mission of the GHHS, public relations, etc. We are looking forward to their return next year, and hoping to embark on the Lady Washington next time.

Being a maritime port, Bellingham has been a part of nautical exploration and trade for a long time. The Pacific Northwest coast was surveyed and mapped most intensively by Captain George Vancouver in the 1790’s, though Russian and Spanish interests were also active in the area. Seven Trees grows a fingerling potato called Ozette that was brought from Peru to the Makah tribe by Spanish explorers in Neah Bay on the coast of Washington State in the late 1700’s.

The HMS Satellite and US Coast Survey Steamer Active in Drayton Harbor around the time of the Northwest Boundary Survey, 1858-1859.
Tall ships in Bellingham Bay c.1905.

Having tall ships in Bellingham Bay (and other local anchorages) is a wonderful way to reconnect with our seafaring history. With fossil fuels becoming more expensive to obtain, sailing ships are being rediscovered as a method of cargo delivery. A Dutch schooner, the Tres Hombres, is carrying organic cargo sometimes faster than oil-powered tankers. Maybe the ‘exotic’ imports we’ve come to depend on, like coffee and sugar, will in the near future be transported by sailing ships.

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